The pairing of star acts on an album isn’t uncommon.
Last year, Elton John and Leon Russell teamed for “The Union,” which reached No. 3 on the Billboard 200. Earlier in 2010, Carole King and James Taylor’s “Live at the Troubadour” bowed at No. 4.
In 2007, rocker Robert Plant and country/folk singer Alison Krauss partnered on “Raising Sand.” The set peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and was honored as album of the year at the 2009 Grammy Awards.
In previous decades, country cornerstones Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson recorded multiple albums together, while Dolly Parton‘s wide list of album duet companions includes Emmylou Harris, Loretta Lynn, Kenny Rogers, Linda Ronstadt, Porter Waggoner and Tammy Wynette.
In R&B’s past, Marvin Gaye reached the Billboard 200 courtesy of collaborative albums with Diana Ross, Tammi Terrell and Mary Wells.
Such a set topping the Billboard 200, however, is a rare achievement.
Launching at the summit, Jay-Z and Kanye West‘s “Watch the Throne” is just the ninth collaborative album sporting billings by at least two acts to crown the Billboard 200, dating to its inception as a weekly survey the week of March 24, 1956.
(Such a statistic excludes acts that employed a new name upon their formation, i.e., USA for Africa, whose “We Are the World” compilation racked three weeks at No. 1 in 1985).
The honor is not as rare for Jay-Z, however: he has claimed a 50 percent share on the last three collaborative Billboard 200 No. 1s. Prior to “Throne,” his “MTV Ultimate Mash-Ups Presents: Collision Course” with Linkin Park led in 2004. “Unfinished Business” with R. Kelly reigned in 1997.
Here is a look at the select nine albums that took two, or more, to make it right to the top of the Billboard 200.
(Artist, Title, Date Reached No. 1, Weeks at No. 1)
Stan Getz/Charlie Byrd
March 9, 1963, one
The saxophone and guitar virtuosos, respectively, reached No. 15 on the Billboard Hot 100 with the album’s “Desafinado.”
Diana Ross & the Supremes with the Temptations
Feb. 8, 1969, one
The iconic Motown acts partnered for four top 40 albums on the Billboard 200 in 1969. Before “TCB,” “Diana Ross & the Supremes Join the Temptations” rose to No. 2; third effort “Together” reached No. 28; and, “On Broadway” peaked at No. 38. “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me” marked their highest-charting Hot 100 single together (No. 2, 1969). After Ross departed the Supremes for a solo career, the group charted two albums with the Four Tops.
Eric Weissberg & Steve Mandell
March 17, 1973, three
The set’s title track, from the movie “Deliverance,” spent four weeks at No. 2 on the Hot 100. Both pickers had previously recorded with Judy Collins and John Denver.
Barbra Streisand & Kris Kristofferson
“A Star Is Born”
Feb. 12, 1977, six
While the soundtrack represents Streisand’s sole collaborative No. 1 album, she’s topped the Hot 100 in duets with two other artists: Neil Diamond (“You Don’t Bring Me Flowers,” 1978) and Donna Summer (“No More Tears (Enough Is Enough),” 1979).
John Lennon/Yoko Ono
Dec. 27, 1980, eight
Their first topper billed as a couple (after three prior entries had dented the chart’s lower half in 1969) bowed on the Billboard 200 dated Dec. 6, 1980, two days before Lennon’s death.
Nas Escobar, Foxy Brown, AZ and Nature
“The Firm – The Album”
Nov. 8, 1997, one
The all-star rap foursome ended an almost-17-year break from collaborative sets inhabiting the Billboard 200 penthouse. The album’s “Firm Biz,” featuring Dawn Robinson, reached the Rap Songs top 15.
R. Kelly & Jay-Z
Nov. 13, 2004, one
Hova’s first shared Billboard No. 1 was his second with Kelly. Their “The Best of Both Worlds” had peaked at No. 2 in 2002.
“MTV Ultimate Mash-Ups Presents: Collision Course”
Dec. 18, 2004, one
The rap/rock hybrid made for a natural fit, given Linkin Park’s trademark blurring of the genres. The acts’ “Numb”/”Encore” reached No. 20 on the Hot 100 after the band’s original version of “Numb” had peaked at No. 11.
Jay Z Kanye West
“Watch the Throne”
Aug. 27, 2011, one (to-date)
“It’s just protecting the music and the culture,” says Jay-Z of the meaning behind the title of the Billboard 200’s new leader. “It’s people that (are) in the forefront of the music. ‘Watch the Throne,’ like protect it. You just watch how popular music shift(s) and how hip-hop basically replaced rock & roll as the youth music. The same thing can happen to hip-hop. It can be replaced by other forms of music.
“So, it’s making sure that we put the effort into making the best product so we can (to) contend with all this other music, with dance music that’s dominating the charts right now and indie music that’s dominating the festivals.”
Additional reporting by Keith Caulfield